Carrot Ginger Soup

One of my knitting friends mentioned a delicious carrot ginger soup she’d tried at a local restaurant, and I was intrigued by the idea, so I started looking for recipes online. I found this one, made a few tweaks, and ended up with something amazingly delicious.

I was also excited for the chance to see how my immersion blender could handle a huge pot of soup, because let’s face it, transferring hot soup to a blender or food processor in batches is a pain in the butt. Fortunately, the immersion blender did a great job of producing a very creamy soup. In fact, Kevin was wishing the soup was a little chunkier, so next time I’ll probably set some of the veggies aside before blending.

Be forewarned: this makes a LOT of soup. It’s almost all I was eating for the next few days. Next time I make it (and there WILL be a next time!) I may freeze half of it without the cream, then reheat at a later date and add the cream. (I suppose I could just cut the recipe in half, but it’s always nice to have delicious food waiting for me in the freezer!)

Carrot Ginger Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 onions, peeled and chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups chicken broth

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced

2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and white pepper

Sour Cream (optional)

Green onions, sliced (optional)

 

Directions:

In a large pot, melt butter over medium high heat and add onions. Cook and stir until the onions are translucent, then add garlic and cook while stirring for another minute. Add broth, carrots, celery, and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are tender. (I let mine simmer for about 30 minutes.)

Remove from heat. Blend with an immersion blender to desired consistency, or blend in batches in a normal blender. (If freezing a portion of the soup, do so now. ) Stir in cream and heat soup over high heat until hot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sour cream and green onions if desired.

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Resolute

So much for posting more regularly! That’s ok though, because tomorrow is a new year, and amongst other things, I’m resolving to write more often!

I’m not always (ok, I’m almost never) successful with New Year’s resolutions, because I always make too many and they’re always too vague. (“Get in better shape”? What exactly does that mean?) Actually, I think my only resolution for 2012 was to lose weight, which I did (despite forgetting about my New Year’s resolution entirely until just this very moment when I checked my Google Talk records to see if I’d even made one), thanks to running and breastfeeding. I have a few definite goals for 2013, and I’m feeling fairly optimistic.

1. Run a half-marathon

I plan to join the next 10k training at Fleet Feet, which starts in two weeks. However, that’s just a stepping stone on my way to doing the half-marathon training, probably for the Brewers Mini-Marathon in September.

2. Write 52 blog posts

Originally my goal was going to be “Write one blog post a week,” but I like phrasing it this way better, because it allows for me to slip up once in awhile but catch up later.

3. Plant a vegetable garden

Even if it’s just a tomato plant and some green onions or something, I’m determined to grow some sort of food in my yard this summer!

4. Get all the achievements in the Dragonborn expansion of Skyrim

Well come on, it’s me, so there has to be something video game-related on here. I’ll probably have this one done by the end of the month, anyway; I’ve already got 2 down, 8 to go!

5. Do something out of the house with Drake every week

I really need to entertain the little guy more, especially now that he’s a toddler. He needs more playdates and outings, plus I’m still unreasonably timid sometimes about even taking him shopping with me (although Christmas shopping this year went a long way towards curing me of that. I even tried on clothes at Kohl’s with him!) So, here’s to a fun 2013 of mommy-toddler time!

***

I think I’ll stop there, even though it’s tempting to come up with more. I’ll feel a lot better about making five resolutions and succeeding at all of them than making ten resolutions and failing half of them! ๐Ÿ™‚

 


If only I could get paid for video game achievements…

achievement

So, last time I mentioned games on this blog, I had just finished getting every achievement in Skyrim. After that, I picked up Final Fantasy XIII-2. It wasn’t bad, although the plot seemed to get confusing after awhile.ย (Wait, they have to do what? And why? Something something the timeline is altered?) Oh, and the ending was an unbelievable downer. I haven’t tried the DLC yet, but sometime I probably will. I did, however, get all the achievements, of course.

ffxiii-2

High on my success of having 1000 achievement points for two games, I realized I’d never feel right unless I picked up FFXIII again (which I had beaten at the end of November 2011, after a year and a half of extremely sporadic playing) and finished off the last few achievements I needed for that. Of course they were pretty much all the most difficult and time consuming ones; it didn’t take long for me to remember why I’d skipped them the first time around.

But, I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to grinding out achievements.

ffxiiiachievements

After I finally finished that, I bought Diablo 3, which had come out a couple weeks before. It’s the first Diablo game I’ve ever played, and I was pretty into it for awhile, especially since there were all sorts of achievements to get. And unlike WoW, they were account-wide! Hooray. Since I had no intention of getting ALL the achievements (level two characters from each class up to 60? NO THANKS), my main goal was just to catch up to my bestie Travis, which unfortunately I was unable to do before I burned out. I did get to about 3400, though.

Another factor in my loss of interest in Diablo was that the Dawnguard and Hearthfire expansions for Skyrim had come out (and with them…you guessed it, more achievements). So that’s what I’m currently playing. I finished the main questline for Dawnguard (on the vampire side), and right now I’m grinding my way through building three houses. The one achievement I’m having my doubts about is “Kill a legendary dragon,” because apparently those don’t even appear with any regularity until level 70 or so, and I’m still at level 50 (and have been ever since I started playing again.) So if I want to have any chance of getting that achievement, I foresee some long hours of level grinding ahead. Too bad there’s not a job that would pay me for being an achievement junkie!


Running (Wo)Man

I know, I’ve been beyond pathetic about posting! But, since my knitting friend Leah has started posting regularly again, I’m feeling inspired to get back into it as well! There’s a lot I could talk about in one long post, but I think I’m going to break it up over a few days so I don’t immediately run out of material. ๐Ÿ˜›

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been training to run a 5k. If you didn’t know I was a runner, that’s ok; I wasn’t! In order to understand how I became a runner, we have to go back three years. (Don’t worry, this won’t be THAT long of a story!)

In September of 2009, Kevin and I took a trip to San Diego and stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house. My Aunt Trina gets up ridiculously early and goes for a run every day before work. During the course of our time in San Diego, I saw tons of runners all over the place and thought, “Man, I wish I were more in shape!” I mentioned to my aunt that I was potentially interested in running and she lent me a book about getting started running.

When I got home, I read through the book and even bought some good shoes at a local running store. I started doing one of the training programs in the book, which had me doing intervals of running/walking, with the eventual goal of running for 20 minutes straight. Unfortunately I sort of fizzled out on the running, and my nice running shoes became my favorite walking shoes.

I had given the running store my e-mail address, and for the past three years I’ve been getting their newsletter, which I never unsubscribed from for some reason. Periodically the newsletter would mention an upcoming 5k training program, and I always thought, “Maybe someday.” Well, maybe it’s the fact that I want to be in better shape at the start of my (eventual) next pregnancy than I was with the first, or maybe I just felt like I needed to add another hobby to the pile, or maybe I’m trying to mitigate the fact that someday Drake will no longer be nursing and I’ll no longer be burning those extra calories, but when I saw a newsletter in August about the upcoming 5k training, I decided to finally attend the info meeting.

Eight weeks later, I can run (albeit slowly, but still) 2.75 miles without stopping. This Saturday I’ll be doing a mock 5k with the group, and then in two weeks I’ll be running the Jingle Bell Run at the Milwaukee County Zoo. I think I may also have been bitten by the running bug; I’m already considering signing up for the next training session which starts in late November, possibly as a mentor. After I get a couple 5k races under my belt, I’d like to try a 10k, and then eventually maybe even a half-marathon!

I think the big difference from my previous running attempts has been the group setting. There were probably times during our group runs that I would have been walking, if there hadn’t been other people around me running and helping set an achievable pace for me. (I definitely have a tendency to push myself harder than I should when I’m running alone, which causes me to burn out.) I actually find myself looking FORWARD to running, which I’m not sure has ever been the case before!

On deck for tomorrow: I think I’ll slide over to the very opposite end of the athleticism spectrum and talk about my video gaming activity of the past six months! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Sour Cream and Cheese Quick Bread

I’ve been sort of lax on the blogging front, obviously. Part of the reason for that is I haven’t been cooking anything all that interesting for the past week or so. We’re in dire need of a grocery run, so we’ve just sort of been eating whatever is in the pantry and the fridge.

A few days ago, I finally got around to making a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for awhile: Quick Sour Cream Cheese Bread. I had just enough of a container of sour cream left over, and some Colby cheese. The bread probably would have been even tastier with cheddar or something else stronger than Colby, but it was still pretty darn good!

cheesebread

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of what it looks like sliced; I was impatient and cut the first few slices while it was still pretty warm, so they weren’t very attractive looking, and I can’t take one now because…all the bread is gone. ๐Ÿ˜›


220 Hours

It occurs to me that so far my blog has been pretty heavy on the “Domestique” and not as much on the “Geek,” so I’m going to talk about video games for a little bit.

For Christmas, Kevin’s brothers gave me Skyrim, and I started playing it the day after Christmas. I created a female Nord warrior named “Skalmรถld,” which is a Valkyrie name meaning “sword-time.” Clever, eh? Other than the fact that I almost never actually used a sword. (I favored the warhammers and battle axes. I did get a kick out of the guards saying “The gods gave you two hands, and you use them both for your weapon. I can respect that.”)

I “finished” playing it on March 2, and by “finished” (because how do you finish a completely open game that generates random quests indefinitely?) I mean I got the final XBox 360 achievement for it (50 out of 50, baby!) and finally allowed myself to move on to something else.

Out of the approximately 68 days between starting the game and putting it down, I logged over 220 hours of game time. That equates to nine solid days, an average of 3.2 hours per day over those 68 days, about 13% of my time. Not too bad (or maybe not too good?) considering I also have a baby to look after! Of course, a lot of that game time took place while nursing (which doesn’t work as well these days; he’s taken a keen interest in the XBox controllers!) or when Drake was sleeping or under Kevin’s care.

By the end of it, it was honestly feeling more like a job than a game. I’d already completed the main questline, the faction questlines, and a fair amount of randomly generated quests and unique quests. The last achievement I needed was to reach level 50, and I admit I pretty much churned out levels 42-50 by leveling the crap out of my smithing, enchanting, and alchemy. I ended up smithing a pretty nice set of legendary ebony armor, but of course I barely ended up using it since I unceremoniously abandoned the game once that last achievement popped up.

skyrimachieves

It seems like it’s been much longer than 26 days since I stopped playing. Is that a sign of withdrawal? Oh well, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is keeping my attention for now, but one of these days maybe I’ll pick up Skyrim and plunk around a bit more.


Adventures in baby food

I’m not a hippie at all in most respects, but a surprising amount of my parenting choices sort of fall into the realm of hippie (although a lot of these choices seem to be coming back into the mainstream). We cloth diaper, co-sleep, breastfeed, and I’ve decided I want to make all of Drake’s baby food (although I did buy the rice cereal in a box. I read up on making that too, but I decided to buy it because I wasn’t sure the homemade stuff would have enough iron.)

Drake’s only had the rice cereal so far, except for a failed experiment with avocado yesterday. He kept making a face and kind of shuddering every time I gave him some, and didn’t seem to want to swallow it. So we switched to cereal, and then he started crying and I ended up breastfeeding him instead.

Last night I ran out to Buy Buy Baby and bought a couple of ice cube tray-type things for freezing baby food, then stopped at the grocery store to buy a bag of carrots. This afternoon while Drake was napping, I decided to try to make baby food out of said carrots.

I don’t own a steamer, but I decided that putting the carrots in a colander and putting that in a pot would be just as good. Since the colander was pretty much sitting on the bottom of the pot, I could only put maybe a centimeter (probably less) of water in the pot. In no time at all my water was boiling and my carrots were steaming away.

Instead of sitting around while the carrots cooked, I decided to clean up the kitchen a bit and do some dishes, periodically checking on the carrots. Eventually I noticed the smell of something burning. I turned off the heat on the stove, took the lid off the pot, and picked up the colander. All the water had boiled away and the sugars that had dripped down from the carrots had carbonized all over the bottom of the pot. Oops.

I put the pot in the sink to soak, and set out to puree the carrots. I thought it might be fun to use my handy-dandy immersion blender that I got for Christmas. Well…I don’t know if fun is the right word. No matter how hard I tried, there were some chunks of carrot that were determined to escape the blender’s blades. I think next time I’m just going to use the normal blender. (I refuse to by a “Baby Bullet” or the like; I don’t need another appliance taking up space in my kitchen when I already have plenty of other food-pulverizing devices at my disposal.)

Anyway, despite my setbacks, I did end up with enough puree to set some aside in a bowl for later today, and to fill all seven one-ounce compartments in the tray.

carrots

(Please excuse the bits of carrot splattered so unattractively all over the tray. Obviously my execution in spooning the puree into the compartments has a ways to go as well.)